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Virtues and Their Vices$
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Kevin Timpe and Craig A. Boyd

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199645541

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199645541.001.0001

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Fortitude and the Conflict of Frameworks

Fortitude and the Conflict of Frameworks

(p.75) 3 Fortitude and the Conflict of Frameworks
Virtues and Their Vices

Daniel McInerny

Oxford University Press

This essay considers three versions of the virtue from three very different social milieus. First is the Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf, which provides the defining characteristics of a pre-Christian or pagan understanding of fortitude. Most probably written through the eyes of Christian faith, Beowulf provides an interesting transition and point of contrast to the second version of fortitude explored, the Christian fortitude defended by St Thomas Aquinas in his Summa Theologiae among other works. Thomistic fortitude enjoys intriguing continuities and discontinuities with its pre-Christian cousin in Beowulf, but both of these medieval versions must be sharply contrasted with a third version of fortitude, the contemporary, post-Nietzschean notion of ‘authenticity’ articulated in the work of Charles Taylor. The over-arching aim of the inquiry is an answer to the question: can one of these three incommensurable frameworks for understanding fortitude be judged rationally superior to the others? And if so, then how?

Keywords:   fortitude, courage, virtue, Beowulf, Thomas Aquinas, Charles Taylor, incommensurable frameworks, pagan, Christian, authenticity

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